By ANDY GRIMM, SAM CHARLES and MATTHEW HENDRICKSON
Kanari Gentry-Bowers, the 12-year-old who was struck by a stray bullet as she played at her school playground on Saturday evening, died Wednesday after four days on life support at Stroger Hospital.
The girl’s father and aunt, along with crisis responder Dawn Valenti, spoke to reporters outside the hospital a few hours after Kanari was pronounced dead.
Her father, Justin Bowers, somberly pleaded for anyone with information on the shooting to come forward.
“I just want justice for my daughter. That’s all I’m asking,” Bowers said. “Stop holding this punk. Turn him in, please. Just turn him in. That’s all I’m asking.”
“Kanari Gentry Bowers passed away this afternoon,” the family said in a statement released by Stroger Hospital. “We are appreciative of all of the thoughts and prayers we have received in the past several days. Please keep your children close and do whatever it takes to protect them from the senseless gun violence in our city.”
Kanari was on the basketball court at Henderson Elementary, at the corner of 57th and Wolcott around 7 p.m. Saturday when gunshots rang out.
She was struck in the head, and family members said in the ensuing hours, emergency responders and doctors revived her at least three times after her pulse all but disappeared.
“This baby was 12 years old. Twelve. Still in grammar school. All she liked to do was play, dance, just have fun, and she just lost her life like that,” Kanari’s aunt, Rochetta Tyler, said outside the hospital.
Valenti said the girl was pronounced dead at 3:38 p.m. after doctors found no more brain activity.
“We cannot continue to go this route,” Valenti said. “The president said he was going to send in the feds if we couldn’t get this under control. I say send ’em in. A lot of people are going to be angry at my statement, but who else is going to help us?”
Speaking on the effects of the state’s budget impasse earlier in the day, Mayor Rahm Emanuel—who had been in contact with Kanari’s family — again said he’d welcome federal resources.
“I would like Washington to stand up and send in the resources—not just the FBI and DEA and AFT, which I would welcome—but send in the resources that include funding ex-offender programs, after-school programs, summer jobs programs, all the things that have been cut.
Family members have said Kanari was a vivacious child.
Henderson Principal Marvita Jackson-Ivy recalled that the girl had announced to her classmates that she planned to become a judge just a few days before she was shot. Students at the West Englewood school spent Monday morning making an enormous get-well card for Kanari, and talking to counselors. Despite warm temperatures this week, Jackson-Ivy said she has not allowed outdoor recess.
“It’s just too much outside right now,” she said. “The children are worried. We have a big gym on the fourth floor.”
Valenti said the flurry of deaths has been chilling.
“I’ve been tweeting [President Donald] Trump to send in the feds,” she said Wednesday. “We can’t continue like this. Too many babies are dead just in the last few days.”
A GoFundMe page has been set up to help with medical and funeral expenses. It had raised more than half of its $10,000 goal in just three days.